While some of my friends back home have been enjoying the New England snow for the past two weeks, I’ve been back on the Homewood campus for a unique Hopkins opportunity: Intersession! Intersession gives students the chance to return to campus one, two, or three weeks early to take a class for one or two credits (and it’s FREE!).

I came back two weeks early, and the class I took was only three days a week from 1-4, so naturally there was plenty of free time to relax, sleep, and hang out with friends. However, I knew that these two weeks of free time were a huge gift, and they gave me the opportunity to explore all the aspects of Baltimore & Hopkins that I had wanted to first semester, but somehow never got around to seeing. I made myself an “Intersession Bucket List,” and the following are all the items that I’ve managed to complete over the past couple of weeks.

Baltimore Museum of Art

The BMA is completely free for students and is only a five minute walk from campus, so we really had no excuse not to spend an afternoon there. Not only does the museum house the world’s largest collection of Matisse works, it also has some really interesting contemporary art and photographs from around the globe. It’s big enough to wander around in for a few hours, and I would definitely recommend checking it out if you have some spare time on a visit to campus.

Exploring the museum– a cool neon light exhibit and a mirror room that was probably made for little kids, but that we enjoyed nonetheless!

Washington, D.C.

There’s an eight dollar train from Baltimore’s Penn Station to DC, so we woke up early one morning and went to spend the day in the city. Some of my friends had never been to DC before, so it was super exciting seeing their reactions to the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, and other sights. Even though most of the museums were closed due to the government shutdown, we still had a great day; we marched in the Women’s March, explored some shops and buildings, and got lunch at the gorgeous Union Station. I’m sure we’ll come back another weekend when the museums are open again, and I can’t wait.

Federal Hill

It was an insanely windy day (the “real feel” was 3 degrees fahrenheit), so of course, it was the perfect time to explore Baltimore’s historic Federal Hill. We took the Charm City Circulator (a free shuttle with a stop next to campus) down to the Inner Harbor, checked out a really cool art museum, and then spent a while sprinting up/rolling down Federal Hill. We finished the afternoon warming up at a café called 3 Bean Coffee, and then took the free shuttle back to campus. As fun as the day was, it was made even better by how affordable Baltimore is; the shuttle, museum, and Federal Hill were all completely free, so the only money I spent was on my $3.00 hot chocolate at the café. Saving money as a college student can be tricky, but living in a city like Baltimore, where there’s so much to do at such a low cost, makes it much easier.

Braving the freezing temperatures at the top of the hill, but enjoying the beautiful view of the harbor.

American Museum of Visionary Art

The museum we visited at Federal Hill is called the American Museum of Visionary Art, and it’s definitely not your average art museum. We visited on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so aside from the huge collection of unique and fun artwork, there was also a free banquet on the top floor honoring Dr. King with an open mic for slam poetry and spoken word. We saw Dew More Baltimore, an internationally-winning youth spoken word group, give some incredibly powerful and inspiring performances, and it was a great way to feel connected with the Baltimore community.

Chinese Takeout Movie Night

Intersession wouldn’t be complete without more than a couple chill movie nights, so my friends and I set out on a mission to find the best “bad Chinese food” place in Charles Village. One of our favorites is called the Orient Express, and so we had a fun & relaxing chinese takeout movie night, alternating between Dirty Dancing and the AFC championship game (GO PATS). Nights like these, while far more lowkey, are one of the highlights of Intersession; getting the chance to just relax and spend time with friends without homework or difficult classes doesn’t happen too often in college, and is definitely a gift.

While I managed to check off a fair amount of items on my Intersession Bucket List, there’s still so much to discover in Baltimore, and I can’t wait to spend the second half of my freshman year learning more about this amazing city. Intersession has been one of the highlights of my Hopkins experience so far, and I know I’ll be back early again next year to take advantage of this awesome opportunity.

Until next time!